Nothing says love like a special chocolate dessert. Creamy and rich, a chocolate mocha tart is that special dessert.
Love of Chocolate
When I was in culinary school pursuing a culinary arts degree, all of my elective courses were baking and pastry. The lure of bread, cake, and sugar was too strong. I enjoy the exactness and required precision of desserts.
One class that I particularly had a fondness for was chocolate. On early Saturday mornings for a semester, I would have the opportunity to play with chocolate for 4 hours. And play is the correct verb. We learned how to manipulate chocolate through tempering, how to build structures, and how to transform chocolate into divinely delicious desserts.
The fringe benefit of taking this class was the availability of chocolate. Boxes of expensive chocolate pistoles of every type - bittersweet, milk, white, to name a few - were all within reach. So because of this availability, there was a one for me, one for recipe type of thing going on. Way too much chocolate on a Saturday morning!
Labor of love
This chocolate mocha tart has three components - tart dough, caramel, and chocolate cream. The recipe doesn't require a laundry list of ingredients. But the best approach is step by step.
The dough for the tart shell is very similar to pate sablee. The texture is like a cookie, sweet and rich. The secret to working with this dough is to make sure it is cold and to roll it out quickly. It has a lovely structure because of the addition of an egg yolk.
Rolling out the dough can be done in one of two different ways. You can roll it out on a floured surface or between two sheets of parchment paper.
Also, when baking the dough, use pie weights or dried beans so that the shell maintains its shape.
Caramel and chocolate have a natural affinity for each other. A hidden layer in the tart, the caramel is a lovely surprise when enjoying a slice.
Chocolate mocha filling
The final layer is the chocolate mocha filling which is thick, creamy, and intense. It is made with the same technique as a creme anglaise in which milk is simmered until steamy and hot. If you do not like mocha flavor, you can omit the addition of the espresso powder but continue making the chocolate filling in the same manner. It pays to use the best chocolate you can find. The flavor of the tart will be much better if quality chocolate is used.
You can use a strainer when pouring the cream out of the pan on top of the caramel layer once the chocolate filling is completed. This will catch any overcooked bits of egg. Just don't leave the filling in the pan when it has thickened because it will continue to cook. Smooth it out with an offset spatula for an even layer.
Gilding the lily
I like to add sweetened creme fraiche to the top of the tart. The sweet/sour flavor of the creme fraiche is a nice flavor note opposite the dark and rich caramel chocolate combo.
Given that I am a definite chocoholic, a chocolate mocha tart is one of my favorite desserts. And I am hoping it is one yours also. But please share!
Chocolate Mocha Tart
- 9 ½-inch tart shell
- pie weights or dried beans
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup almond flour
- ½ cup confectioners sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
Chocolate Mocha Filling
- 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
- 2 tablespoons espresso powder
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg
Sweetened creme fraiche
- 8 ounces creme fraiche
- ½ cup confectioners sugar
- Whole amounts of ingredients used in different components of the recipe such as eggs and cream are in the notes.
Assemble tart dough
- This dough is similar to a pate sablee which is known for being a rich and delicate dough. The key to working with the dough is to keep it cold. If it gets too warm it will tear easily.
- Using a paddle, mix 1 ¼ cups of flour, almond flour, ½ cup of confectioners sugar, brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a mixing bowl.
- With the motor running, add the butter a few cubes at a time. This may take 5 minutes.
- After all the butter is incorporated, add the cream and one egg yolk. As soon as the dough comes together, stop the mixer. This happens quickly, about 1 minute.
- Place plastic wrap on a counter and pour the dough onto it. Now folding the plastic wrap on top, press the dough together using the heel of your hand. This is similar to a process called fraisage. Basically, you are combining the dough into one disc. Wrap the entire disc in the plastic wrap and chill while making the other tart components.
- Combine 1 cup of sugar with ¼ cup of water in a saucepan. Make sure your pan is medium-sized to account for boiling liquid.
- It is best to start the caramel slowly. Over medium heat, wait for the sugar to completely dissolve in the water. Once there is slight boiling action, you can raise the heat to medium-high.
- After 8-9 minutes, the sugar should start to turn amber. You can swirl the pan to distribute the browning sugar. Continue cooking until the color is medium brown, about 245 degrees on a thermometer.* Add ½ cup of heavy cream. Be careful, the cream will bubble up significantly and there will be steam. This effectively stops the caramel from continuing to darken. *Don't let the sugar get too brown. It can burn or cook to a hard crack which is like a caramel sucker.
- Continue to stir over medium-high heat for 2 more minutes. Remove from the pan from the burner and stir in ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. This will not make the caramel salty but will add a little depth of flavor. Let cool.
Rolling out the dough
- You can use two different methods to roll out the dough. It can be rolled out on a floured surface or between two sheets of parchment paper.
- With the first method, sprinkle some flour (3-4 tablespoons) onto a surface. You do not need a lot of flour because too much can be absorbed by the dough. The key to success with this method is to work quickly and to keep rotating the dough so it doesn't stick to the surface. With a roller, start from the center of the dough, working outward. Rotate the dough ¼ turn. Keep using this process until the dough is the same size as the tart pan with some extra for the sides. Make sure that the dough has a consistent thickness.
- For method two, use the same process for rolling as above. Within two sheets of parchment paper, start from the center with the rolling pin, working outward. Once the dough is the correct size, make sure that the dough has a consistent thickness.
- With method one, gently fold the dough onto itself and carefully place over half of the tart pan. Unfold the dough and use your fingertips to press into the corner of the pan to create a sharp edge along the bottom. If cracks appear, press the dough together to make a repair. Remove the excess dough from the top edge with a knife.
- With method two, remove the top sheet of the parchment paper and place the dough upside down on top of the tart pan. Make sure the dough is centered over the pan. Remove the parchment paper from the top of the dough and use your fingertips to press into the corner of the pan to create a sharp edge along the bottom. If cracks appear, press the dough together to make a repair. Remove the excess dough from the top edge with a knife.
- With a fork, prick the dough all over. Place the tart pan into the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.
Bake the tart shell
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- The tart shell will need pie weights for baking. I often use dried beans as pie weights.
- Place a piece of aluminum foil on top of the chilled dough. Make sure to fit the foil all around the bottom edge of the dough. But don't press too hard - that will create cracks. Put pie weights or dried beans on top of the foil. Make sure you have enough to completely fill the pan. This will prevent the sides of the dough from slipping down as the shell bakes.
- Place in the oven for approximately 22 minutes. The edges should be lightly browned. Remove the pie weights or dried beans by picking up the edges of the foil. To finish baking the bottom, place the tart shell back in the oven for 5 minutes. The bottom of the shell should be dry to the touch. Let cool while continuing with the other steps.
Making the chocolate mocha filling
- The process for making this cream is similar to making a creme anglaise.
- Whisk the whole egg and the yolk together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, add 1 ¼ cups of heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of espresso powder, and the salt. Over medium-high heat, stir the ingredients until the cream is steaming and very hot. Remove from the heat.
- Add the chopped chocolate to the hot cream mixture and stir until the chocolate is melted.
- At this point, the eggs are going to be tempered with some of the hot chocolate/cream mix. Add a little chocolate/cream to the whisked eggs to bring them to temperature. Add a small amount more. Put the pan back over medium heat and add the egg and chocolate back to the pan. Working quickly, mix everything together with a spatula. The mix will start to thicken quickly. As soon as it feels like it is the consistency of pudding, take the pan off the heat.
- You can use a strainer to pour the chocolate cream through to remove any overcooked bits of egg. Just don't let the cream remain in the pan because it will continue to cook which is what you do not want to happen.
- In the baked tart shell, pour the caramel sauce. Gently swirl the pan to move the caramel over the whole bottom surface.
- Carefully pour the chocolate cream over the caramel. You can use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the chocolate. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour until set.
- With a mixer or whisk, combine creme fraiche and confectioner's sugar until thickened. Spoon on top of the chilled chocolate mocha tart.